All of the young girls in Zhang Peng's artworks are delicate and helpless. Their big, sad eyes are filled with tears and seem to appeal to the audience. What kind of pain and sadness are these girls, who are supposed to be the purest souls in the world, hiding?
Carefully examining Zhang Peng's artworks, you can sense a feeling of sadness which is different from that of most other artworks. It is different from the solitude and suppressed sadness of Zhang Xiaogang's Family Series. Zhang Peng's young girls do not reveal their sadness and pain. Seeing their awkward jewels and makeup on their small and slender bodies, they seem sad although they are not crying and are splendid yet miserable.
Zhang Peng was born in 1981. He lives and works in Beijing. Zhang Peng’s photography takes young, vulnerable women and girls as its central theme. There is a profound sense of sorrow and empathy that is evoked in his haunting images of doll-like girls sitting timidly on richly-colored settees and in bloody bathtubs. Their indescribable expressions of hurt and vulnerability leave the viewer unsettled, disconcerted and heavy hearted.
Zhang Peng’s work looks gorgeous! This is going to be a super exhibition. It will feature new photography, paintings and watercolors. At 27, Zhang Peng is considered to be one of China’s most talented, interesting and promising young artists. It is still early in his career, yet he has already received attention from important collectors and media throughout the world. Images of his work have appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times online and have graced the covers of numerous art magazines.
Zhang Peng said that he spends more time looking out to the world than staying in his studio to actually create art. He is an innocent and courageous artist who intends to capture the truths and contradictions of this world in his art.
Zhang Peng converted his art from painting to photography in 2006. The term of 'convert' might be too restraining to Zhang Peng. When asked why he 'converted' to photography, the artist expressed that there was no special season with a perplexed face. "There is no special reason. When I changed my genre from painting to photography, many people were just like you. They were curious as to why I changed my media so suddenly and kept asking me why. However, all I wanted was to express many thoughts and emotions in my mind through more diversified means." He states that photography, which can capture a moment of an event and sensibility, is more suitable for him compared to painting that offers only a limited time to express all of his thoughts. However, his photography is not as simple as his humble statement. He makes flawless compositions, carefully arranged as theater sets and elaborately controls the lighting effects to create dramatic scenes. Furthermore, there are computer manipulations to make abnormally big eyes and slender bodies. His work has not become any easier than painting. Zhang Peng's previous paintings and full-color photographs were strongly attached to red - red flowers, red blood, and so on. "Red symbolizes either China itself or blood. As the national economy grows, each individual within it becomes relatively small. Red implies the meaning of this duality."
His recent black-and-white photographs do not reveal red, but the omission of red seems to add brutality and subtlety to his art. We can clearly see blood on the glass in front of the girl who is holding a knife, half-naked in a barber shop, which is a place dominated by males. Seeing the expressionless face of girls, holding colorful jewels they obtained by dissecting a swine, we are urged to think about who is responsible for not being able to protect the innocence of these girls. Classification between painting and photography, or color and black-and-white is only a package that limits Zhang Peng's art. For a young artist who has just made his first step into the battleground of society and art sector, endless experimentations with various genres and media are only a process of finding himself. Zhang Peng displays a young, passionate contemplation beyond genre and media.